GMAT Verbal : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Thomas Jefferson, the muted public speaker, was quite different from Thomas Jefferson, the firebrand author of the Declaration of Independence.

Possible Answers:

Jefferson, the muted public speaker, was quite different from Thomas Jefferson, the firebrand author of the Declaration of Independence

Jefferson the muted public speaker and firebrand author of the Declaration of Independence was quite different

Jefferson, the muted public speaker, and Thomas Jefferson, the firebrand author of the Declaration of Independence, were quite different

Jefferson, the muted public speaker, and Thomas Jefferson, the firebrand author of the Declaration of Independence, was quite different

Jefferson the muted public speaker was quite different from Thomas Jefferson the firebrand author of the Declaration of Independence

Correct answer:

Jefferson the muted public speaker was quite different from Thomas Jefferson the firebrand author of the Declaration of Independence

Explanation:

When appositive clauses are required to understand the meaning of a sentence, they should not be surrounded by commas. In this case, the sentence does not make sense if you remove the appositive clauses, so they should not be surrounded by commas.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Created from the finest sands of the Mediterranean, highly skilled artisans of the early Renaissance crafted stained glass, which still adorns thousands of cathedrals all over Europe.

Possible Answers:

highly skilled artisans of the early Renaissance crafted stained glass, which still adorns thousands of cathedrals all over Europe

and adorning thousands of cathedrals all over Europe, highly skilled artisans of the early Renaissance crafted stained glass

stained glass crafted by highly skilled artisans of the early Renaissance still adorns thousands of cathedrals all over Europe

stained glass, crafted by highly skilled artisans of the early Renaissance, still adorns thousands of cathedrals all over Europe

highly skilled artisans, of the early Renaissance, crafted stained glass that still adorns thousands of cathedrals all over Europe

Correct answer:

stained glass crafted by highly skilled artisans of the early Renaissance still adorns thousands of cathedrals all over Europe

Explanation:

The sentence is an example of a dangling modifier. “Highly skilled” workers were not “created from the sands of the Mediterranean.” The correct answer makes the “stained glass” the subject of the sentence (and it does not surround “crafted by highly skilled artisans of the early Renaissance” with commas because its meaning is integral to the meaning of the sentence).

Example Question #3 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

When only 10 years old, the boy’s father and mother sent him away to boarding school to expose him to a more rigorous academic environment.

Possible Answers:

the boy’s father and mother sent him away to boarding school, a more rigorous academic environment, to expose him

the boy was sent away to boarding school by his father and mother to be exposed to a more rigorous academic environment

the boy’s father and mother sent him away to boarding school to expose him to a more rigorous academic environment

the boy was sent away to a boarding school, exposed to a more rigorous academic environment, by his father and mother

the boy’s father and mother, exposing him to a more rigorous academic environment, sent him away to boarding school.

Correct answer:

the boy was sent away to boarding school by his father and mother to be exposed to a more rigorous academic environment

Explanation:

This sentence is an example of a dangling modifier. “When only 10 years old” applies to the boy, so he must be the subject of the sentence, not the “father and mother.”

Example Question #4 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Although many people think of peanuts as nuts, peanuts actually belong to the legume family.

Possible Answers:

Although often thought of as nuts

Although often being thought of as nuts

Although many people think of peanuts as nuts

Although often thought of as nuts

Although many people think of peanuts as nuts

Correct answer:

Although often thought of as nuts

Explanation:

If you start a sentence with an incomplete phrase or clause, it must be followed closely by the person or thing it describes. That person or thing is always the main subject of the sentence.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Since first coming to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, economists have been debating the value of Milton Friedman’s theories.

Possible Answers:

economists having been debated the value of Milton Friedman’s theories.

economists have been debating the value of Milton Friedman’s theories.

economists have been debating the valuation of Milton Friedman’s theories.

the value economists have debated of Milton Friedman's theories.

Milton Friedman’s theories have been debated by economists.

Correct answer:

Milton Friedman’s theories have been debated by economists.

Explanation:

The phrase preceding the underlined clause needs to directly reference the subject of the clause immediately following the comma. The things that have come "to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s," are Milton Friedman's theories, not "economists," so the first thing mentioned after the comma should be Milton Friedman's theories, to avoid confusion and ambiguity. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "Milton Friedman’s theories have been debated by economists."

Example Question #6 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Heralded as a mighty invention in its time, Eli Whitney may have actually contributed to the increase in the number of slaves in the Antebellum South by increasing the profitability of cotton with his invention, the cotton gin.

Possible Answers:

Eli Whitney may have actually contributed to the increase in the number of slaves in the Antebellum South, by increasing the profitability of cotton with his invention the cotton gin

Eli Whiney's inventing of the cotton gin may have actually contributed to the increase in the number of slaves in the Antebellum South by increasing the profitability of cotton

the cotton gin, having been invented by Eli Whitney, may have actually contributed to the increase in the number of slaves in the Antebellum South by increasing the profitability of cotton

Eli Whitney may have actually contributed to the increase in the number of slaves in the Antebellum South, by increasing the profitability of cotton with his invention, the cotton gin

the cotton gin, invented by Eli Whitney, may have actually contributed to the increase in the number of slaves in the Antebellum South by increasing the profitability of cotton

Correct answer:

the cotton gin, invented by Eli Whitney, may have actually contributed to the increase in the number of slaves in the Antebellum South by increasing the profitability of cotton

Explanation:

The modifier clearly modifies "the cotton gin," so that must be the subject of the sentence. Of the two answer choices that do this correctly, the correct answer is the more concise of the two and avoids the awkward wording "having been invented by."

Example Question #7 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Exhausted by the months he had spent working on the project, the executive's relief was clear to everyone who attended the final meeting.

Possible Answers:

the executive's relief was clear to everyone who attended the final meeting.

the executive's relief was clear to anyone who attended the final meeting.

the executive's relief was clear, according to everyone who attended the final meeting.

the executive was clearly relieved, according to everyone who attended the final meeting.

the relief of the executive was clear according to everyone who attended the final meeting.

Correct answer:

the executive was clearly relieved, according to everyone who attended the final meeting.

Explanation:

This sentence is an example of a dangling modifier, as the sentence reads as though it is the "relief," rather than the "executive," who is "exhausted by the months spent working on the project." This confusion needs to be cleared up to show that the executive is the one who is exhausted. The only answer choice that properly corrects the dangling modifier is "the executive was clearly relieved, according to everyone who attended the final meeting."

Example Question #3 : Correcting Dangling Modifier Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Unable to play safely with other children, Jenny's mother pulled her out of summer camp early.

Possible Answers:

early Jenny's mother pulled her out of summer camp.

Jenny's mother pulled her out summer camp earlier.

Jenny's mother early pulled her out of summer camp.

Jenny earlier was pulled out of summer camp.

Jenny was pulled out of summer camp early.

Correct answer:

Jenny was pulled out of summer camp early.

Explanation:

The example sentence includes an unclear modifier. The antecedent phrase "Unable to play safely with other children" describes Jenny, but the highlighted section makes this unclear by referring to Jenny's mother immediately after the phrase. It could be understood from the example sentence that Jenny's mother was pulled out of summer camp early. The correct version of the sentence reads, "Unable to play safely with other children, Jenny was pulled out of summer camp early."

Example Question #2183 : Act English

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Coming back to the farm, the gruesome scene was seen by everyone in the car.

Possible Answers:

the gruesome scene was seen by everyone at the car.

the gruesome scene was seen by everyone in the car.

the gruesome scene saw by everyone in the car.

everyone in the car saw the gruesome scene.

the gruesome scene being seen by everyone in the car.

Correct answer:

everyone in the car saw the gruesome scene.

Explanation:

The sentence is written with a dangling modifier, which makes the sentence read as though the "gruesome scene" was what was "coming back to the farm." The sentence needs to be restructured to clarify this problem. The only answer choice that does this is "everyone in the car saw the gruesome scene."

Example Question #215 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Waiting for the crucial trial to begin, the anxiety Neil felt was almost overwhelming.

Possible Answers:

Neil's anxiety felt almost overwhelming.

the anxiety Neil felt was almost overwhelming.

Neil felt almost overwhelmed with anxiety.

the anxiety being felt by Neil was almost overwhelming.

the anxiety almost overwhelmed Neil.

Correct answer:

Neil felt almost overwhelmed with anxiety.

Explanation:

When a sentence begins with a dangling participle or descriptive phrase, the person or thing described in that phrase (in this case, "Neil") must immediately follow it. Only one answer choice does this correctly. The answer choice that begins "Neil's anxiety" may appear to do so, but it does not, because the possessive "Neil's" is no longer the subject, but is describing the anxiety.

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